On Feb. 25, 27 couples gathered before sunrise at Union Grove Park on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir to compete for the heaviest five-fish limit of black bass each team could muster from the warming waters of that lake.

As the event came to a close some eight hours later, three local couples would take second, fourth, and fifth place in this tournament.

The Texas Bass Couples Tournament Trail is a statewide tournament circuit broken down into seven regional divisions. The Central Division encompasses the Hill Country area, including the entire Killeen-Belton-Temple area. Each couple pays a $100 entry fee per tournament, and that “pot” is split among the top several finishing couples at each event, depending on the number of couples participating.

Each division hosts six tournament events spread over the course of the year. Those who accumulate sufficient points (based on a couple’s standings in the tournaments they fish) or who fish at least four of the six events, qualify for the championship event. This season’s championship tournament will be held on Toledo Bend Reservoir in October.

The Central Division’s remaining tournaments will take place on Lake Whitney on March 11, Belton Lake on April 2 , Lake Waco on May 6, on Lake Buchanan on June 10 and Lake LBJ on June 24 . The May 6 event on Lake Waco will include a potluck meal following the tournament.

Ronnie Trower and his wife, Joyce Trower, of Harker Heights, took second place in the recent tournament on Stillhouse. Their five-fish limit weighed 22.09 pounds, anchored by an exceptional largemouth bass that weighed 8.52 pounds. This outsized specimen was the largest taken by any of the men in the tournament, thus bringing Trower an extra $130 for the “big bass” prize in addition to the $435 prize for finishing in second place overall.

The Trowers, who serve on Texas Boat World’s pro staff, shared that their fish came on a combination of presentations including a black and blue jig with a Zoom craw trailer affixed to it, a Carolina rig with a Zoom Baby Brush Hog in watermelon color, and a 1-oz. Little River Shadow Slab retrofitted with a Hazy Eye Stinger hook.

The Trowers, who recently equipped their Triton bass boat with a Minn Kota Ultrex trolling motor, gave high praise to this investment.

“That motor is what helped me catch those fish. I couldn’t have stayed still otherwise.” said Ronnie Trower, referring to the motor’s Spot Lock feature that allowed him to hover their boat in one place with his hands and feet free while dealing with a stiff northeast wind blowing at around 14 mph.

The Trowers found most of their fish in sparse hydrilla in less than 12 feet of water. They reported struggling to put their first fish in the boat through 9:30 a.m., but quickly made up for lost time by landing a five-fish limit by 11:30. Once a limit is landed, couples continue fishing for larger fish to replace smaller fish that have been retained in a process known as culling.

Other top-finishing local couples included Dave and Kirsten Schwertner, who finished in fourth place with 16.99 pounds of bass, and Ronny and Charity Anthony, who finished in fifth place with 15.59 pounds.

For the event, 96 fish were weighed in, totaling 274.08 pounds, hence an average per-fish weight of 2.855 pounds. Fourteen five-fish limits were brought to the scales.

Those interested in investigating fishing competitively in a couples format may contact Texas Bass Couples organizers Travis or Pat McCullough at 254-652-8934 or 254-447-0382.

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